Academe of the Oaks, Global Village Project start gardening program for refugee girlsPhoto provided by the Global Village Project.
Decatur’s middle school for refugee teenage girls, the Global Village Project, and Academe of the Oaks have been working closely together for a while now.
Academe has a Refugee Scholarship Program, wherein “bright, motivated young refugee girls” are sponsored to attend Academe for a high school education.
Last year, Academe instructor Edna Lora said that the school started to think of ways to deepen their relationship with the middle school.
This past January, Academe and Global Village embarked on “a joint gardening venture.” One time per week, students from both schools convene to compost, learn about food production, and practice gardening methods.
Global Village doesn’t have much outdoor space, and since of the refugee girls fled from farmlands, weekly gardening at Academe is a comforting and familiar outlet for these middle schoolers.
“When you’re looking at welcoming these girls, working in their gardens and growing their own food is a thing that they miss,” Lora said. “Working in the soil with these kids – it’s just very uplifting to see their faces. It’s a beautiful thing, and hopefully we’ll be preparing food together soon.”
Lora teaches one of the gardening classes, which is a mixture of 10th graders and Global Village’s form 3 class – the students who are the most proficient in English. They’re currently working on straw-bale gardening.
This gardening program has influenced learning in ways outside of the weekly class, too. Global Village girls are going back to the classroom and practicing English as well as creating songs about their experiences.
“The new partnership will help raise awareness and promote advocacy for refugee women’s education and also help students from both schools explore cultural diversity through plant-based stories, food selection and eating customs,” Lora said.
Lora and the coordinating stem teacher from Global Village are looking to continue the gardening program in the fall semester.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the speakers.